Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher is warning that another escalation in the overcrowding crisis in hospital Emergency Departments cannot be ruled out. Figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation show the numbers of people on trolleys rising steadily, from 362 last Friday, to 518 yesterday and now up to 523 this morning.
Deputy Kelleher commented, “The demand on our hospital services at this time of year should have been anticipated and measures put in place to cope with the extra pressure. However, there has been a complete lack of urgency in the Government’s response to the crisis, which was predicted before Christmas, and now the situation is reaching critical levels once again.
“Despite warnings from Fianna Fáil as far back as October that the extensive Fair Deal waiting lists would exacerbate the Emergency Department crisis, Minister Leo Varadkar failed to put measures in place to alleviate the situation. The latest figures reveal that there are more than 1,300 people waiting for nursing home beds, with average wait times of almost 3 months. In the space of a year, the number of older people waiting for a Fair Deal place has rocketed by almost 150% from 512 to 1,332, while waiting times have escalated from 4 weeks to 11 weeks.
“The capacity issues, which have culminated as a result of the Fair Deal log-jams are now impacting on other hospital departments including EDs. This is leading to massive overcrowding issues, which are leading to unmanageable working conditions for frontline staff and pose major threats to patient safety.
“Measures could have been taken to ease this pressure before the situation was allowed to spiral out of control, but because of Minister Varadkar’s failure to take action, both the Fair Deal and trolley figures have reached unacceptable levels. I am urging the Minister to act without haste and implement workable measures to bring this situation under control. Winter time is traditionally a pressure point for our hospitals, and with the increased possibility of flu and winter bug outbreaks, I have grave concerns that Emergency Department overcrowding will reach new record levels unless urgent action is taken”.